Signs of change at Silver Lake’s Sunset Junction*

Before wall was errected.

The familiar Sunset Junction sign that looms over the terra-cotta colored shops at Sunset Boulevard and Sanborn Avenue has been stripped away and a new concrete block wall now obscures one of the Silver Lake storefronts. What’s going on?   First off, the much photographed Sunset Junction signs are being cleaned up before they will reappear in the same colors and style, said a painter working on the project.  The concrete block wall at the corner encloses what appears to be a patio for an expansion of Cafe Stella, the French bistro located in the same complex and owned by Gareth Kantner.

While the return of the sign is sure to appear Silver Lake locals, that new concrete barrier has put off  Silver Lake resident Alexis Lantz, who writes:

I fully support having another night spot in the neighborhood that’s easy to walk to, but they installed an awful wall that cuts into the very nature of that corner. It ruins the transparency of the corner, the pedestrian environment, and in my view will actually take away for what could be a great business to enliven the corner and make it even more inviting.

Perhaps the  wall is to keep Silver Lake’s Five Dollar Guy away. Whatever the reason, Sunset Junction is due for more change with a developer announcing plans to build hundreds of housing units, a saddle-shaped public art project to be installed in the intersection and the Jiffy Lube to be replaced by a transit plaza.

* Update: Silver Lake restaurant owner responds to a wall of criticism. The Eastsider


  1. That concrete wall is a complete abomination. Heaven forbid they use some tasteful fencing instead, draw in a little business showing happy customers.

  2. Ugh, that cinder block wall is hideous, no matter how they end up painting it.

  3. saw this the other day – not happy. why it needs to be that tall is beyond me.

    one of the great things about eating at a sidewalk cafe is just that… being on the sidewalk for people watching. this thing looks like one of those walls they use for concealing big dumpsters and it completely ruins that corner. thanks cafe stella!

  4. They might as well put up a sign that says, “Tag Me”

  5. Might just be a temporary wall, constructed for safety purposes, since there’s a lot of pedestrian traffic there. Let’s hope that’s what it is, because it is truly ugly!

  6. agreed. the wall is awful. what part of sidewalk cafe is being missed here? you could be dining anywhere. “look, i’m in a room , outside , but i can’t see anything.” you would think that they would want people to drive or walk by and be able to say, “that place looks great, i want to go in.” not , “hey ,look at the wall. or, “hi , i’d like a seat by the wall
    please , i would like to watch no one walk by .” way to ruin a perfectly lovely corner.

  7. the cinder block wall looks like a temporary wall. i can’t imagine that stays once the expansion is complete. wise up people. there has to be something there while they tear up good ol driftwood.

  8. When the Wind blows, East Hollywood turns the corner at Sunset and Echo Park like a little lost Tumbleweed
    And you can take All That Imminent Domain Proletarian Bourgeois Rhetoric
    and Poster Bill and Flyer it where it belongs ~
    At N. Coronado Street and Sunset Blvd !

  9. usually for construction, a plywood surround goes up , not an actual wall. (see two doors down, at the old K2 space) i assume they will cover the cinder block with stucco and paint it to match the rest of the complex. otherwise they wouldn’t have constructed it.

  10. Someone go put a bird on it

  11. Something there is that doesn’t love a wall

  12. Great. Another abomination in the neighborhood. I can’t wait till that giant condo complex goes in. So nice of Garcetti’s office to drop the ball again and let a big developer run roughshod on our neighborhood. If you think traffic on Sunset is bad now…..

  13. Maybe stella doesn’t want its customers looking at the ghetto el pollo loco while they’re dining al fresco. i know i wouldn’t.

    • You might want to think twice about tossing the word “ghetto” around so lightly. To me, it smacks of racism. That Pollo Loco, fyi, is actually a nice restaurant. The management keeps it pretty clean inside and out, and the staff there are extremely pleasant. It’s a relatively healthy and totally affordable option for anyone who might not otherwise be able to eat in the Sunset Junction area (you know, like “ghetto” people.)

      • unfortunately the owner of this el pollo loco franchise donated $$$ to the “yes” on prop 8 campaign. not forgetting that one!

      • @Sue racism is in the eye of the beholder, that never occurred to me until you mentioned it. I was thinking more of the flourescent lighting, junky stucco, and massive, hideous glowing sign.

        • racism is racism. there is no eye of the beholder. that’s what racists say. but el pollo loco is just as ghetto as trader joes is ghetto (mind you a different type). i think it’s entirely noble to not buy burritos from loco or shop at mormon run fake natural mart due to their blatant thwarting of gay rights.

      • Pseudo-Goth West Side Head Shop , Bourgeois Proletarian Snob Racism … Wow !
        Cant wait till it Sets up Shop on Red Hill between The EXP Street Gang, The Wah Ching, The New Soul Food Restaurant, and Myselve.
        Now That`s What I Call Diversity !

      • I always liked that El Pollo Loco but I haven’t eaten there in over 3 years because the owners donated money to the Yes on H8 campaign.

    • if its so “ghetto” why do you live here ?

      • the diversity…..(or ghetto, as whoever so snidely put it) is WHY MOST US LIVE/moved HERE.
        That being said….. it’ s peolple like that, and like whoever dared to comment about ” The FIVE DOLLAR GUY” ( who has been here, as a fixture and quite endearing part of the fast fleeting charm of our neighborhood). HOW DARE YOU! It’s individuals like that, that are stealing our neighborhood from us, pushing out it’s core;
        families that have been here for generations , artists and free thinkers and gay men and women…. from many different cultures and walks of life… this was a beautiful melting pot of interesting people… need i mention YOU COULD BE A NORMAL PERSON and get by just fine here NOW you have have a TON OF CASH to live here or keep living here…. IT’S SAD….
        Local shops being forced out so idiots can bullddoze our charmimg building to make room for monsters and mainstrean CRAP! HEARTBREAKING…….!

        WHERE ARE THEY NOW…..?

  14. That wall is trying to say something to the world.

    I can’t know exactly what it is saying, but I think I can hear it shouting something like:

    I Am So Frustrated and P.O.’d trying to work with the Dept. of building and safety, or planning, or city councilmans office, etc. to get permitted my planned improvements on my property. So, one thing of which is absolutely clear and there is no dispute – the code allows me to erect a cinder block wall of up to 6 ft. high on the property line of my lot. So if you want to make my life miserable for trying to improve my property in a creative and considerate fashion, then fine – go and stare at my brand new completely legal fully compliant gross ugly bare cinder block wall! And if anyone doesn’t like don’t complain to me – go complain to your pencil necked stuffed shirt bureaucrats at Snitty Hall!

    Or I could be completely wrong. Go ask the wall.

  15. cover with stucco or whatever–the wall is hideous. changes the entire character of that normally lively, happy corner that had an open, european, destination-type quality to it.

    it surprised me because normally Gareth has such good taste.

  16. The WALL is Alright

    LOL, true I do blame the Dept of Building and Safety or some other bureaucrats…

    Why don’t they just get a local “artist” to graffiti it up …then it’ll be so “hip”

  17. The wall is almost certainly required by the ABC, the state agency in charge of alcohol licensing. If it’s true that an actual bar is going in there, there are myriad nutty laws that regulate consumption of booze. They could very well have decided that drinking can’t be visible from the street. Bam, cinder block wall.

    • head down sunset and look at the thirsty crow – one giant window in the front. no wall. alcohol-consuming patrons visible from street.

      perhaps this is cafe stella’s way of allowing patrons to drink outside? still, there has to be a better way.

  18. When I drove by last week and found that intrusive wall, I didn’t get a good look at it and was SO hoping it was just a temporary plywood barrier made to look like cinderblock. Ugh.

  19. How is that even legal? The sidewalk is public right of way. This is like building an addition on your home that juts out into the sidewalk.

  20. That cinder block wall SCREAMS of being a code violation. It is higher than is allowed for a front wall without a variance. Did they get a variance? I do not think that temporary during construction — no one builds a cider block wall merely for temporary construction.

    Also, it juts out onto what I would have thought was the public sidewalk — if they are on public sidewalk, did they get a special permit for that, as it is not allowed otherwise. If not public sidewalk, it certainly is required setback — did they get a variance to eliminate any required setback?

    I will say, I have been VERY unhappy with Stella ever since they first took over the walkway in the back, which until they arrived had always been a public walkway in a court of stores back there. But they closed that off, and pedestrians can no longer walk through. Do they have some attitude that they are entitled too all pedestrian space as their’s for their customers only? I now and have always felt they showed a bad attitude.

  21. Saw this the other day… seriously, WTF is wrong with people in this city?

  22. I get sad every morning when I drive past this on my way to work. That wall is right in the middle of the sidewalk. I mean, that place is a zoo on weekends with sidewalk traffic, people hanging out. This is awkward, ugly and really unnecessary.

  23. WOW! Someone is making improvements and you all complain. How would you like to walk past this everyday. http://cdn.cstatic.net/cache/gallery/2629/3863094478_ac3f5afdb8_o.jpg
    Corner of Bates and Sunset the so called Bates Motel The city still hasn’t torn down this eyesore that sits across the street from an preschool. Why don’t you guys do a article about this little problem that has been ongoing for the last 20 years?

  24. The sight of that wall is a stark reminder, along with the scads of closed businesses in our neighborhoods that one unfortunately does not have to be smart, tasteful, or sensitive to one’s surroundings to “start your own business”. Oh, and with regards to the bates motel – it’s not the city’s problem to tear the property down, it’s the responsibility of the property owner. Us, as stakeholders can move the city along to encouraging the property owner to demolish a derelict or dangerous or crime ridden structure: search for the story of the recent demolition of the crime and vandalism ridden properties at the Northwest corner of Hollywood and Western.

  25. What’s up with the war on Sunset Junction? It’s pretty much ruined if that big development goes in.

    • Really. You are absolutely right. Sunset Junction is nice and good because of what it already is. These obnoxious plans, and seemingly from all around, are not going to enhance it, they are merely going to destroy it.

      Like this offensive cinder block wall, like the proposal for hundreds of housing units at the site of the 4100 Club (what, about 15 stories high because the lots are so small for that number of units!) and the now vacant site across from it on Santa Monica, even like the HUGE and obnoxious saddle sculpture that has no relationship whatsoever to this area but will just suddenly overwhelm in size and loudness, like this idiotic idea that we need a full bus depot for — for what, 3 bus lines so they can turn across busy traffic and into a lot every time they come down the street regardless of whether anyone is even getting on or off!

      People seem to see a nice place and think: if it is nice,we must then develop to the max until it is utterly destroyed because that is “progress,” “improvement.”

  26. Honestly, would you really expect anything different than this this from Kantner? Oy. Set the bar low, folks, real low.

  27. My, oh my. Some people will complain about anything.

  28. Well, sure as sh!t they got the approval for an enclosed patio. The renderings show that the patio extends right up to the property line, which means that the current open sidewalk area is really part of that property that is now not being used. (Thanks @Jessica for posting that link).

    The plans also show the wall to be covered with ‘Venetian’ plaster, I guess a fancy way of saying stucco.

    Wonder if the approval had anything to do with the new council districts? Doesn’t Garcetti lose this area when the lines are redrawn? Maybe he’s doing a money grab for the city because it’ll be LaBonge who has to deal with the fall out from it?

  29. This is such a prime example of Eastsider readers over-reacting to a building a work in progress. Sunset Junction and Stella has always had impeccable taste, and I’m sure that this will also follow in the same footsteps. I guarantee that once it’s done, we’ll all be happy with the final product. Chill out.

  30. I’m sure it will create a nice oasis once inside… then they’ll hang a couple pictures of hipster heroes on the outside. Or maybe a rendition of Alois Saint-Martin’s stolen album cover. It will be charming in the end you’ll see!

  31. Maybe Cafe Stella will finally hire a second waiter to cover all that new space. One can only hope!

  32. I hope they spell “Silver Lake” properly when they repaint the welcome sign, at least.

  33. The block wall may not be pretty, but its practical. The owner of the property wants to provide a quality dining experience for patrons at the future Cafe Stella sidewalk annex. He also is concerned for their safety.

    Just give it some time and eventually you’ll see the wall work its magic.

    Between drive-by’s and swerving vehicles that jump the curb, the wall is going to save some lives.

    • By foghorn leghorn’s measure, let’s — I say — let’s get their respective owners busy building barriers around Tropical, Local, Seven Mares, Dusty’s, Food Lab, Alimama’s, Tarascos, Millie’s, Matisse, Mornings/Nights, Flore, Naturewell, Good, Pazzo Gelato, and Casbah (apologies to any I missed). Practical safety magic walls for everyone against the coming drive-by/curb-jumper apocalypse!

      • The intention of my comment was to offer the safety factor as a possible motivation for the proprietor to erect this particular wall.

        The fact is that al fresco seating placed within feet of the roadway does increase the diners vulnerabilty to injury from a moving automobile.

        Although it may be a rare occurence, there are circumstances which result in a moving vehicle trying to share the same space as diners and the results are unpleasant.

        The probability of such an occurence increases significantly at intersections and is even higheer at a signal controlled intersection.

        I seem to recall a while back driving past the corner of Sunset Junction and observing the property damage inflicted by a vehicle to the shoe store which was the tenant at the time in the space where Cafe Stella will soon offer dining.

    • Or it will kill some pedestrians that would have been farther from the street if there hadn’t been a wall behind them.

  34. ‘Tom’ said: “I will say, I have been VERY unhappy with Stella ever since they first took over the walkway in the back, which until they arrived had always been a public walkway in a court of stores back there. But they closed that off, and pedestrians can no longer walk through. Do they have some attitude that they are entitled too all pedestrian space as their’s for their customers only?”

    That ‘walkway in the back’ was on private property. Not sure if Stella owns the property, but either way the property owner knows and allowed Stella to close it off.

    So yes, the property owner is entitled to close off a walkway that non-customer pedestrians were using to cut the corner. The public was not entitled to that private property walkway.

  35. An update:

    Drove past it this morning and someone has spray painted “TEAR DOWN THIS WALL” on the cinderblocks.

    Now, I don’t condone vandalism — but I did laugh.

  36. The wall is way too tall, I don’t care how they finish it either. It should be four feet max and then trellisy/viney above that if they like. A huge wall where a storefront used to be is just not cool.

  37. Hey everybody
    This is gareth, owner of sunset junction
    Please allow the said wall of concern to be completed before all of the assumptions
    It will be stucco’d and painted with bougainvillea
    My thinking regarding the wall is to keep any noise from affecting the public
    If you have any concerns please feel free to stop by and say hi.
    I hope I have answered any concerns
    As far as the sign is concerned we are just redoing it exactly the way it was

    • The info is appreciated, but not very comforting.

      As a resident who shops, walks, cycles and drives in the corridor, you should realize it severely damages the public realm by closing off a large swath of the walkway and crowding/blocking the vantage point of a very busy corner. It also deactivates foot traffic by removing the shop windows and entrances that it has obscured… paint and ivy is no a remedy for this.

      If you lose the foot traffic, you will lose potential customers and damage the eclectic vibe of our neighborhood — I will be boycotting your shops until that wall comes down (Cafe Stella, Intelligentsia, Cheese Store, etc.)

    • Gareth,

      Thanks for providing more info. Like someone else mentioned on this chain of comments, it’s really the height that’s the detractor. I’m sure you’ll make the wall look great – but it doesn’t change the fact that it takes away from the pedestrian experience and liveliness of the corner. Please consider making the wall waist height and make the front of your restaurant visually open to passersby – it will attract more business and be an even better addition to your complex. You have provided a dynamic public private space to the community and the wall at this height really takes away from all the great work you have done to make your property the cornerstone of Sunset Junction.

  38. The zoning code has a corner cut off/visibility triangle requirement that prohibits construction of most structures in a triangle extending 10′ from the intersection of the property lines at the corner. LA Muni Code 12.21,C-7. Not sure how this wall got approved – doesn’t look like a specific approval was requested or granted for this.

  39. stucco , paint and plants are not going to make this any less of a wall that blocks people from what should be open corner. it is very intrusive as you round the corner on sunset. i’d rather it had stayed an open store front and do something like they did with Gilina or mozza 2 go. make this a stella casual cafe/market/take out and keep the corner as it was. oh well.

    • it shouldn’t be an open corner. That sidewalk is private property belonging to the property owner, who has the right to do this. Sheesh! And I’m not even a republican!

      • just because you can , doesn’t mean you should. the complex seems to have been designed in a way to keep the corner open or welcoming. which is why until recently , this was a nice corner. sheesh!

  40. No neighborhood remains in stasis. For any neighborhood to remain vital, it has to change, evolve and grow. There are lots of things that are imperfect about Sunset Junction but so much more to love. I’m not sure if this wall will be terrible or wonderful, but I’ll reserve judgment until it’s done. And then the hideous or wonderful wall will become a part of the fabric of the neighborhood, good, bad, and ugly.

  41. Happily, this morning I saw righteous graf on the ugly, antagonistic wall.
    May Silver Lake return to its gutterpunk roots ASAP.
    I think the coolest of residents know not to be caught dead cooing over smelly cheese and dull wine with dad’s money at Cafe less than Stella – that corner has always been seriously off-limits for some time with the uber-unbearable ‘Intelligentsia’ labs with their nautical nasties serving up ridiculous and unpleasant designer drips. The wall should extend around the whole area so William Morris trainees can share data without the threat of being in an actual neighborhood.
    Keep on sprayin’ that wall kids – it’s awesome!

  42. Hey Todd, I’m all about owners utilizing their space, and all for the big new developments at Sunset Junction… in fact I think they should be even bigger. But closing off a storefront with a wall that juts out is simply not a nice thing. For it to be as tall as it is makes it even worse.

    Gareth – I know you’ve great taste so far with SJ, but really you should consider shaving the top off of that wall to make it a bit less unfriendly. Pretty please??

    • Don't Feed the trolls

      Why the hell would you want those developments to be even bigger?

      If you want to live in an apartment farm move to the Orsini or downtown or hollywood or west hollywood — or new york.

      • There’s a big difference between the Orsini and most of downtown. Big developments right along major bus routes in pedestrian friendly neighborhoods are great, but big developments at the 101/110 interchange do nothing but bring more drivers who couldn’t walk to the businesses downtown if they wanted to.

    • Well it’s not a storefront anymore, they’re converting it to a restaurant.

      • A restaurant is also a great thing to have open to the street! It’s nice to be inside and see all the pedestrians walking by, and it’s nice to be outside and see the people eating inside.

  43. Every neighborhood needs a dungeon. What were they thinking!

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